Lodge: Mountain libraries elevate minds and sparks new adventures
Grand County, CO Colorado
All my outdoor adventures begin at the library. From reading Edward Abbey’s exploits in the desert or Bill Bryson hiking the Appalachian Trail, these books and stories give me endless possibilities of places to go and mountains, rivers, and canyons to explore. When it comes time to learn how to run faster, find a trail guide to Rocky Mountain National Park, or plan a trip to Spain, the first place I go is the library.
In high school when I wanted to start hiking and backpacking I read every book about the subjects in the Portsmouth High School Library. This led to wanting to hike the Appalachian and Continental Divide Trails. I read every book about these long trails and dreamed of some day completing them.
I read “Me and the Boy: Journey of Discovery, Father and Son on the Appalachian Trail” which led to reading Stephen Pern’s “The Great Divide.” I scoured the library stacks at my college, reading journals and biographies about Native Americans and western landscapes before moving out west.
When I wanted to become a triathlete I read every book and magazine about swimming, biking and running at the Bud Werner Library in Steamboat before actually swimming, biking, and running.
In Grand County, we have an amazing library system. Suzie Cruse, a Fraser librarian and avid outdoorswoman recently wrote an article about local camping resources. You can view her article on the new Grand County library website’s home page and click on the links to her recommended books in the county-wide library catalogue. http://www.gcld.org.
The best part about libraries – everything is free. The worst part -you have to return the books and videos. I cannot go to the library and sign out one book; I sign out ten. One book leads to another great book, and so on, and so on. I find a movie, a CD, perhaps a magazine, or two or three. I don’t know when I’ll get the time to read them all. Over the years I’ve paid considerable late fees; more than I care to admit. I just don’t want to bring them back until I read them and learn everything I need to know.
Before I go on vacation, I go straight to the travel section. I also go to the biography section because it is the lives of outdoor adventurers that lead me to vacation land. Wallace Stegner’s essays take place all over the west and his stories always have a majestic mountain landscape, adventurous western characters, and narratives that entice me to visit Utah and California.
I’ve been re-reading classic travel stories like Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley” now that I’ve been to many of the places that he writes about on his discovery of America. There is an entire world to discover on the bookshelves of the Grand County libraries, filled with ideas and possibilities of new places to see. I haven’t seen nearly all the places I want, but I know where I can learn about them before I go.
This week, I needed to find the Edward Abbey quote about the disappearing desert. I went to the Fraser library and Suzie led me to book it’s in: “Desert Solitaire.”
Abbey warns in the prologue: “What I write about in this book is already gone or going under fast. This is not a travel guide but an elegy. A memorial. You’re holding a tombstone in your hands.” Written in 1967. I think I need to start to reading Abbey again and plan a trip to the southwest before places he talks about are gone.
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